Section 320.5(3)(b) of the New York Family Court Act authorizes pretrial detention of an accused juvenile delinquent based on a finding that there is a "serious risk" that the child "may before the return date commit an act which if committed by an adult would constitute a crime."
Appellee Gregory Martin was arrested on December 13, 1977, and charged with first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, and criminal possession of a weapon based on an incident in which he, with two others, allegedly hit a youth on the head with a loaded gun and stole his jacket and sneakers. See Petitioners' Exhibit 1b. Martin had possession of the gun when he was arrested. He was 14 years old at the time and, therefore, came within the jurisdiction of New York's Family Court.
Appellees Luis Rosario and Kenneth Morgan, both age 14, were also ordered detained pending their factfinding hearings. Rosario was charged with attempted first-degree robbery and second-degree assault for an incident in which he, with four others, allegedly tried to rob two men, putting a gun to the head of one of them and beating both about the head with sticks. See Petitioners' Exhibit 2b. At the time of his initial appearance, on March 15, 1978, Rosario had another delinquency petition pending for knifing a student, and two prior petitions had been adjusted.
Kenneth Morgan was charged with attempted robbery and attempted grand larceny for an incident in which he and another boy allegedly tried to steal money from a 14-year-old girl and her brother by threatening to blow their heads off and grabbing them to search their pockets. See Petitioners' Exhibit 3b. Morgan, like Rosario, was on release status on another petition (for robbery and criminal possession of stolen property) at the time of his initial appearance on March 27, 1978. He had been arrested four previous times, and his mother refused to come to court because he had been in trouble so often she did not want him home. A probable-cause hearing was set for March 30, but was continued until April 4, when it was combined with a factfinding hearing. Morgan was found guilty of harassment and petit larceny and was ordered placed with the Department of Social Services for 18 months. He was detained a total of eight days between his initial appearance and the factfinding hearing.
On December 21, 1977, while still in preventive detention pending his factfinding hearing, Gregory Martin instituted a
In an unpublished opinion, the District Court certified the class. App. 20-32.
At trial, appellees offered in evidence the case histories of 34 members of the class, including the three named petitioners. Both parties presented some general statistics on the relation between pretrial detention and ultimate disposition. In addition, there was testimony concerning juvenile proceedings from a number of witnesses, including a legal aid attorney specializing in juvenile cases, a probation supervisor, a child psychologist, and a Family Court Judge. On the basis of this evidence, the District Court rejected the equal protection challenge as "insubstantial,"
The Court of Appeals affirmed. After reviewing the trial record, the court opined that "the vast majority of juveniles detained under [§ 320.5(3)(b)] either have their petitions dismissed before an adjudication of delinquency or are released after adjudication." 689 F. 2d, at 369. The court concluded from that fact that § 320.5(3)(b) "is utilized principally, not for preventive purposes, but to impose punishment for unadjudicated criminal acts." Id., at 372. The early release of so many of those detained contradicts any asserted need for pretrial confinement to protect the community. The court therefore concluded that § 320.5(3)(b) must be declared unconstitutional as to all juveniles. Individual litigation would be a practical impossibility because the periods of detention are so short that the litigation is mooted before the merits are determined.
There is no doubt that the Due Process Clause is applicable in juvenile proceedings. "The problem," we have stressed, "is to ascertain the precise impact of the due process requirement upon such proceedings." In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 13-14 (1967). We have held that certain basic constitutional protections enjoyed by adults accused of crimes also apply to juveniles. See id., at 31-57 (notice of charges, right to counsel, privilege against self-incrimination, right to confrontation and cross-examination); In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358 (1970) (proof beyond a reasonable doubt); Breed v. Jones, 421 U.S. 519 (1975) (double jeopardy). But the Constitution does not mandate elimination of all differences in the treatment of juveniles. See, e. g., McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528 (1971) (no right to jury trial). The State has "a parens patriae interest in preserving and promoting the welfare of the child," Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 766 (1982), which makes a juvenile proceeding fundamentally different from an adult criminal trial. We have tried, therefore, to strike a balance — to respect the "informality" and "flexibility" that characterize juvenile proceedings, In re Winship, supra, at 366, and yet to ensure that such proceedings comport with the "fundamental fairness" demanded by the Due Process Clause. Breed v. Jones, supra, at 531; McKeiver, supra, at 543 (plurality opinion).
The statutory provision at issue in these cases, § 320.5(3)(b), permits a brief pretrial detention based on a finding of a "serious risk" that an arrested juvenile may commit a crime before his return date. The question before us is whether preventive detention of juveniles pursuant to § 320.5(3)(b) is compatible with the "fundamental fairness" required by due process. Two separate inquiries are necessary to answer this question. First, does preventive detention under the
Preventive detention under the FCA is purportedly designed to protect the child and society from the potential consequences of his criminal acts. People ex rel. Wayburn v. Schupf, 39 N. Y. 2d, at 689-690, 350 N. E. 2d, at 910. When making any detention decision, the Family Court judge is specifically directed to consider the needs and best interests of the juvenile as well as the need for the protection of the community. FCA § 301.1; In re Craig S., 57 App. Div. 2d 761, 394 N.Y.S.2d 200 (1977). In Bell v. Wolfish, supra, at 534, n. 15, we left open the question whether any governmental objective other than ensuring a detainee's presence at trial may constitutionally justify pretrial detention. As an initial matter, therefore, we must decide whether, in the context of the juvenile system, the combined interest in protecting both the community and the juvenile himself from the consequences of future criminal conduct is sufficient to justify such detention.
The "legitimate and compelling state interest" in protecting the community from crime cannot be doubted. De Veau v. Braisted, 363 U.S. 144, 155 (1960). See also Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 22 (1968). We have stressed before that crime prevention is "a weighty social objective," Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 52 (1979), and this interest persists undiluted in the juvenile context. See In re Gault, supra, at 20, n. 26. The harm suffered by the victim of a crime is not dependent
The juvenile's countervailing interest in freedom from institutional restraints, even for the brief time involved here, is undoubtedly substantial as well. See In re Gault, supra, at 27. But that interest must be qualified by the recognition that juveniles, unlike adults, are always in some form of custody. Lehman v. Lycoming County Children's Services, 458 U.S. 502, 510-511 (1982); In re Gault, supra, at 17. Children, by definition, are not assumed to have the capacity to take care of themselves. They are assumed to be subject to the control of their parents, and if parental control falters, the State must play its part as parens patriae. See State v. Gleason, 404 A.2d 573, 580 (Me. 1979); People ex rel. Wayburn v. Schupf, supra, at 690, 350 N. E. 2d, at 910; Baker v. Smith, 477 S.W.2d 149, 150-151 (Ky. App. 1971). In this respect, the juvenile's liberty interest may, in appropriate circumstances, be subordinated to the State's "parens patriae interest in preserving and promoting the welfare of the child." Santosky v. Kramer, supra, at 766.
The New York Court of Appeals, in upholding the statute at issue here, stressed at some length "the desirability of protecting the juvenile from his own folly." People ex rel. Wayburn v. Schupf, supra, at 688-689, 350 N. E. 2d, at 909.
The substantiality and legitimacy of the state interests underlying this statute are confirmed by the widespread use and judicial acceptance of preventive detention for juveniles. Every State, as well as the United States in the District of
"The fact that a practice is followed by a large number of states is not conclusive in a decision as to whether that practice accords with due process, but it is plainly worth considering in determining whether the practice `offends some principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.' Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97, 105 (1934)." Leland v. Oregon, 343 U.S. 790, 798 (1952). In light of the uniform legislative judgment that pretrial detention of juveniles properly promotes the interests both of society and the juvenile, we conclude that the practice serves a legitimate regulatory purpose compatible with the "fundamental fairness" demanded by the Due Process Clause in juvenile proceedings. Cf. McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U. S., at 548 (plurality opinion).
There is no indication in the statute itself that preventive detention is used or intended as a punishment. First of all, the detention is strictly limited in time. If a juvenile is detained at his initial appearance and has denied the charges
Detained juveniles are also entitled to an expedited factfinding hearing. If the juvenile is charged with one of a limited number of designated felonies, the factfinding hearing must be scheduled to commence not more than 14 days after the conclusion of the initial appearance. § 340.1. If the juvenile is charged with a lesser offense, then the factfinding hearing must be held not more than three days after the initial appearance.
Thus, the maximum possible detention under § 320.5(3)(b) of a youth accused of a serious crime, assuming a 3-day extension of the factfinding hearing for good cause shown, is 17 days. The maximum detention for less serious crimes, again assuming a 3-day extension for good cause shown, is six days. These time frames seem suited to the limited purpose of providing the youth with a controlled environment and separating him from improper influences pending the speedy disposition of his case.
The conditions of confinement also appear to reflect the regulatory purposes relied upon by the State. When a juvenile is remanded after his initial appearance, he cannot, absent exceptional circumstances, be sent to a prison or lockup where he would be exposed to adult criminals. FCA
Secure detention is more restrictive, but it is still consistent with the regulatory and parens patriae objectives relied upon by the State. Children are assigned to separate dorms based on age, size, and behavior. They wear street clothes provided by the institution and partake in educational and recreational programs and counseling sessions run by trained social workers. Misbehavior is punished by confinement to one's room. See Testimony of Mr. Kelly, id., at 292-297. We cannot conclude from this record that the controlled environment briefly imposed by the State on juveniles in secure pretrial detention "is imposed for the purpose of punishment" rather than as "an incident of some other legitimate governmental purpose." Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U. S., at 538.
The Court of Appeals, of course, did conclude that the underlying purpose of § 320.5(3)(b) is punitive rather than regulatory. But the court did not dispute that preventive detention might serve legitimate regulatory purposes or that the terms and conditions of pretrial confinement in New York are compatible with those purposes. Rather, the court invalidated a significant aspect of New York's juvenile justice system based solely on some case histories and a statistical study which appeared to show that "the vast majority of juveniles detained under [§ 320.5(3)(b)] either have their petitions dismissed before an adjudication of delinquency or are released after adjudication." 689 F. 2d, at 369. The court assumed that dismissal of a petition or failure to confine a juvenile at
There are some obvious flaws in the statistics and case histories relied upon by the lower court.
Pretrial detention need not be considered punitive merely because a juvenile is subsequently discharged subject to conditions
Even when a case is terminated prior to factfinding, it does not follow that the decision to detain the juvenile pursuant to § 320.5(3)(b) amounted to a due process violation. A delinquency petition may be dismissed for any number of reasons collateral to its merits, such as the failure of a witness to testify. The Family Court judge cannot be expected to anticipate such developments at the initial hearing. He makes his decision based on the information available to him at that time, and the propriety of the decision must be judged in that light. Consequently, the final disposition of a case is "largely irrelevant" to the legality of a pretrial detention. Baker v. McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 145 (1979).
It may be, of course, that in some circumstances detention of a juvenile would not pass constitutional muster. But the validity of those detentions must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Section 320.5(3)(b) is not invalid "on its face" by
Given the legitimacy of the State's interest in preventive detention, and the nonpunitive nature of that detention, the remaining question is whether the procedures afforded juveniles detained prior to factfinding provide sufficient protection against erroneous and unnecessary deprivations of liberty. See Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U. S., at 335.
In many respects, the FCA provides far more predetention protection for juveniles than we found to be constitutionally required for a probable-cause determination for adults in Gerstein. The initial appearance is informal, but the accused juvenile is given full notice of the charges against him and a complete stenographic record is kept of the hearing. See 513 F. Supp., at 702. The juvenile appears accompanied by his parent or guardian.
The nonhearsay allegations in the delinquency petition and supporting depositions must establish probable cause to
At the conclusion of the initial appearance, the presentment agency makes a recommendation regarding detention. A probation officer reports on the juvenile's record, including other prior and current Family Court and probation contacts, as well as relevant information concerning home life, school attendance, and any special medical or developmental problems. He concludes by offering his agency's recommendation on detention. Opposing counsel, the juvenile's parents, and the juvenile himself may all speak on his behalf and challenge any information or recommendation. If the judge does decide to detain the juvenile under § 320.5(3)(b), he must state on the record the facts and reasons for the detention.
In sum, notice, a hearing, and a statement of facts and reasons are given prior to any detention under § 320.5(3)(b). A formal probable-cause hearing is then held within a short while thereafter, if the factfinding hearing is not itself scheduled within three days. These flexible procedures have been found constitutionally adequate under the Fourth Amendment, see Gerstein v. Pugh, and under the Due Process Clause, see Kent v. United States, supra, at 557. Appellees have failed to note any additional procedures that would significantly improve the accuracy of the determination without unduly impinging on the achievement of legitimate state purposes.
Our cases indicate, however, that from a legal point of view there is nothing inherently unattainable about a prediction of future criminal conduct. Such a judgment forms an important element in many decisions,
We have also recognized that a prediction of future criminal conduct is "an experienced prediction based on a host of variables" which cannot be readily codified. Greenholtz v. Nebraska Penal Inmates, 442 U.S. 1, 16 (1979). Judge Quinones of the Family Court testified at trial that he and his colleagues make a determination under § 320.5(3)(b) based on numerous factors including the nature and seriousness of the charges; whether the charges are likely to be proved at trial; the juvenile's prior record; the adequacy and effectiveness of his home supervision; his school situation, if known; the time of day of the alleged crime as evidence of its seriousness and a possible lack of parental control; and any special circumstances that might be brought to his attention by the probation officer, the child's attorney, or any parents, relatives, or other responsible persons accompanying the child. Testimony of Judge Quinones, App. 254-267. The decision is based on as much information as can reasonably be obtained at the initial appearance. Ibid.
Given the right to a hearing, to counsel, and to a statement of reasons, there is no reason that the specific factors upon which the Family Court judge might rely must be specified in the statute. As the New York Court of Appeals concluded, People ex rel. Wayburn v. Schupf, 39 N. Y. 2d, at 690, 350 N. E. 2d, at 910, "to a very real extent Family Court must exercise a substitute parental control for which there can be
It is worth adding that the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was mistaken in its conclusion that "[i]ndividual litigation. . . is a practical impossibility because the periods of detention are so short that the litigation is mooted before the merits are determined." 689 F. 2d, at 373. In fact, one of the juveniles in the very case histories upon which the court relied was released from pretrial detention on a writ of habeas corpus issued by the State Supreme Court. New York courts also have adopted a liberal view of the doctrine of "capable of repetition, yet evading review" precisely in order to ensure that pretrial detention orders are not unreviewable. In People ex rel. Wayburn v. Schupf, supra, at 686, 350 N. E. 2d, at 908, the court declined to dismiss an appeal from the grant of a writ of habeas corpus despite the technical mootness of the case.
The required statement of facts and reasons justifying the detention and the stenographic record of the initial appearance will provide a basis for the review of individual cases. Pretrial detention orders in New York may be reviewed by writ of habeas corpus brought in State Supreme Court. And the judgment of that court is appealable as of right and may be taken directly to the Court of Appeals if a constitutional question is presented. N. Y. Civ. Prac. Law § 5601(b)(2)
The dissent would apparently have us strike down New York's preventive detention statute on two grounds: first, because the preventive detention of juveniles constitutes poor public policy, with the balance of harms outweighing any positive benefits either to society or to the juveniles themselves, post, at 290-291, 308, and, second, because the statute could have been better drafted to improve the quality of the decisionmaking process, post, at 304-306. But it is worth recalling that we are neither a legislature charged with formulating public policy nor an American Bar Association committee charged with drafting a model statute. The question before us today is solely whether the preventive detention system chosen by the State of New York and applied by the New York Family Court comports with constitutional standards. Given the regulatory purpose for the detention and the procedural protections that precede its imposition, we conclude that § 320.5(3)(b) of the New York FCA is not invalid under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is
The New York Family Court Act governs the treatment of persons between 7 and 16 years of age who are alleged to have committed acts that, if committed by adults, would
The Court today holds that preventive detention of a juvenile pursuant to § 320.5(3)(b) does not violate the Due Process Clause. Two rulings are essential to the Court's decision: that the provision promotes legitimate government objectives important enough to justify the abridgment of the detained juveniles' liberty interests, ante, at 274; and that the provision incorporates procedural safeguards sufficient to prevent unnecessary or arbitrary impairment of constitutionally protected rights, ante, at 277, 279-280. Because I disagree with both of those rulings, I dissent.
The District Court made detailed findings, which the Court of Appeals left undisturbed, regarding the manner in which § 320.5(3)(b) is applied in practice. Unless clearly erroneous, those findings are binding upon us, see Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 52(a), and must guide our analysis of the constitutional questions presented by these cases.
The first step in the process that leads to detention under § 320.5(3)(b) is known as "probation intake." A juvenile may arrive at intake by one of three routes: he may be brought there directly by an arresting officer; he may be detained for a brief period after his arrest and then taken to intake; he may be released upon arrest and directed to appear at a designated time. United States ex rel. Martin v. Strasburg,
On the basis of the information derived from the interview and from an examination of the juvenile's record, the probation officer decides whether the case should be disposed of informally ("adjusted") or whether it should be referred to the Family Court. If the latter, the officer makes an additional recommendation regarding whether the juvenile should be detained. "There do not appear to be any governing criteria which must be followed by the probation officer in choosing between proposing detention and parole . . . ." Ibid.
The actual decision whether to detain a juvenile under § 320.5(3)(b) is made by a Family Court judge at what is called an "initial appearance" — a brief hearing resembling an arraignment.
In the typical case, the judge appoints counsel for the juvenile at the time his case is called. Thus, the lawyer has no opportunity to make an independent inquiry into the juvenile's background or character, and has only a few minutes to
Neither the statute nor any other body of rules guides the efforts of the judge to determine whether a given juvenile is likely to commit a crime before his trial. In making detention decisions, "each judge must rely on his own subjective
After examining a study of a sample of 34 cases in which juveniles were detained under § 320.5(3)(b)
Finally, the District Court made a few significant findings concerning the conditions associated with "secure detention" pursuant to § 320.5(3)(b).
It is against the backdrop of these findings that the contentions of the parties must be examined.
As the majority concedes, ante, at 263, the fact that § 320.5(3)(b) applies only to juveniles does not insulate the provision from review under the Due Process Clause. "[N]either the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Bill of Rights is for adults alone." In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 13 (1967). Examination of the provision must of course be informed by a recognition that juveniles have different needs and capacities than adults, see McKeiver v. Pennsylvania, 403 U.S. 528, 550 (1971), but the provision still "must measure up to the essentials of due process and fair treatment," Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541, 562 (1966).
To comport with "fundamental fairness," § 320.5(3)(b) must satisfy two requirements. First, it must advance goals commensurate with the burdens it imposes on constitutionally protected interests. Second, it must not punish the juveniles to whom it applies.
The majority only grudgingly and incompletely acknowledges the applicability of the first of these tests, but its grip on the cases before us is undeniable. It is manifest that § 320.5(3)(b) impinges upon fundamental rights. If the "liberty" protected by the Due Process Clause means anything, it means freedom from physical restraint. Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 673-674 (1977); Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 572 (1972). Only a very important government interest can justify deprivation of liberty in this basic sense.
The majority's arguments do not survive scrutiny. Its characterization of preventive detention as merely a transfer of custody from a parent or guardian to the State is difficult to take seriously. Surely there is a qualitative difference between imprisonment and the condition of being subject to
Many other observers of the circumstances of juvenile detention in New York have come to similar conclusions.
The applicability of the second of the two tests is admitted even by the majority. In Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535
For related reasons, § 320.5(3)(b) cannot satisfy either of the requirements discussed above that together define "fundamental fairness" in the context of pretrial detention.
Appellants and the majority contend that § 320.5(3)(b) advances a pair of intertwined government objectives: "protecting the community from crime," ante, at 264, and "protecting a juvenile from the consequences of his criminal activity," ante, at 266. More specifically, the majority argues that detaining a juvenile for a period of up to 17 days prior to his trial has two desirable effects: it protects society at large from the crimes he might have committed during that period if released; and it protects the juvenile himself "both from potential physical injury which may be suffered when a victim fights back or a policeman attempts to make an arrest and from the downward spiral of criminal activity into which peer pressure may lead the child." Ante, at 264-266.
Appellees and some amici argue that public purposes of this sort can never justify incarceration of a person who has not been adjudicated guilty of a crime, at least in the absence of a determination that there exists probable cause to believe he committed a criminal offense.
Both of the courts below concluded that only occasionally and accidentally does pretrial detention of a juvenile under § 320.5(3)(b) prevent the commission of a crime. Three subsidiary findings undergird that conclusion. First, Family Court judges are incapable of determining which of the juveniles who appear before them would commit offenses before their trials if left at large and which would not. In part, this incapacity derives from the limitations of current knowledge concerning the dynamics of human behavior. On the basis of evidence adduced at trial, supplemented by a thorough review of the secondary literature, see 513 F. Supp., at 708-712, and nn. 31-32, the District Court found that "no diagnostic tools have as yet been devised which enable even the most highly trained criminologists to predict reliably which juveniles will engage in violent crime." Id., at 708. The evidence supportive of this finding is overwhelming.
The rarity with which invocation of § 320.5(3)(b) results in detention of a juvenile who otherwise would have committed a crime fatally undercuts the two public purposes assigned to the statute by the State and the majority. The argument that § 320.5(3)(b) serves "the State's `parens patriae interest in preserving and promoting the welfare of the child,' " ante, at 265 (citation omitted), now appears particularly hollow. Most juveniles detained pursuant to the provision are not
The argument that § 320.5(3)(b) protects the welfare of the community fares little better. Certainly the public reaps no benefit from incarceration of the majority of the detainees who would not have committed any crimes had they been released. Prevention of the minor offenses that would have been committed by a small proportion of the persons detained confers only a slight benefit on the community.
The majority seeks to deflect appellees' attack on the constitutionality of § 320.5(3)(b) by contending that they have framed their argument too broadly. It is possible, the majority acknowledges, that "in some circumstances detention of a juvenile [pursuant to § 320.5(3)(b)] would not pass constitutional muster. But the validity of those detentions must be determined on a case-by-case basis." Ante, at 273; see ante, at 268-269, n. 18. The majority thus implies that, even if the Due Process Clause is violated by most detentions under § 320.5(3)(b) because those detainees would not have committed crimes if released, the statute nevertheless is not invalid "on its face" because detention of those persons who would have committed a serious crime comports with the Constitution. Separation of the properly detained juveniles from the improperly detained juveniles must be achieved through "case-by-case" adjudication.
There are some obvious practical impediments to adoption of the majority's proposal. Because a juvenile may not be incarcerated under § 320.5(3)(b) for more than 17 days, it
But even if these practical difficulties could be surmounted, the majority's proposal would be inadequate. Precisely because of the unreliability of any determination whether a particular juvenile is likely to commit a crime between his arrest and trial, see supra, at 293-294, no individual detainee would be able to demonstrate that he would have abided by the law had he been released. In other words, no configuration of circumstances would enable a juvenile to establish that he fell into the category of persons unconstitutionally detained rather than the category constitutionally detained.
The findings reviewed in the preceding section lend credence to the conclusion reached by the courts below: § 320.5(3)(b) "is utilized principally, not for preventive purposes, but to impose punishment for unadjudicated criminal acts." 689 F. 2d, at 372; see 513 F. Supp., at 715-717.
The majority contends that, of the many factors we have considered in trying to determine whether a particular sanction constitutes "punishment," see Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144, 168-169 (1963), the most useful are "whether an alternative purpose to which [the sanction] may
The inference that § 320.5(3)(b) is punitive in nature is supported by additional materials in the record. For example, Judge Quinones and even appellants' counsel acknowledged that one of the reasons juveniles detained pursuant to § 320.5(3)(b) usually are released after the determination of their guilt is that the judge decides that their pretrial detention constitutes sufficient punishment. 689 F. 2d, at 370-371, and nn. 27-28. Another Family Court Judge admitted using "preventive detention" to punish one of the juveniles in the sample. 513 F. Supp., at 708.
If the record did not establish the impossibility, on the basis of the evidence available to a Family Court judge at a § 320.5(3)(b) hearing, of reliably predicting whether a given juvenile would commit a crime before his trial, and if the purposes relied upon by the State were promoted sufficiently to justify the deprivations of liberty effected by the provision, I would nevertheless still strike down § 320.5(3)(b) because of the absence of procedural safeguards in the provision. As Judge Newman, concurring in the Court of Appeals observed, "New York's statute is unconstitutional because it permits liberty to be denied, prior to adjudication of guilt, in the exercise of unfettered discretion as to an issue of considerable uncertainty — likelihood of future criminal behavior." 689 F. 2d, at 375.
Appellees point out that § 320.5(3)(b) lacks two crucial procedural constraints. First, a New York Family Court judge is given no guidance regarding what kinds of evidence he should consider or what weight he should accord different sorts of material in deciding whether to detain a juvenile.
Not surprisingly, in view of the lack of directions provided by the statute, different judges have adopted different ways of estimating the chances whether a juvenile will misbehave in the near future. "Each judge follows his own individual approach to [the detention] determination." 513 F. Supp., at 702; see App. 265 (testimony of Judge Quinones). This discretion exercised by Family Court judges in making detention decisions gives rise to two related constitutional problems. First, it creates an excessive risk that juveniles will be detained "erroneously" — i. e., under circumstances in which no public interest would be served by their incarceration. Second, it fosters arbitrariness and inequality in a decisionmaking process that impinges upon fundamental rights.
One of the purposes of imposing procedural constraints on decisions affecting life, liberty, or property is to reduce the
As Judge Newman recognized, 689 F. 2d, at 375-376, a review of these three factors in the context of New York's preventive-detention scheme compels the conclusion that the Due Process Clause is violated by § 320.5(3)(b) in its present form. First, the private interest affected by a decision to detain a juvenile is personal liberty. Unnecessary abridgment of such a fundamental right, see supra, at 288, should be avoided if at all possible.
Second, there can be no dispute that there is a serious risk under the present statute that a juvenile will be detained erroneously — i. e., despite the fact that he would not commit a crime if released. The findings of fact reviewed in the preceding sections make it apparent that the vast majority of detentions pursuant to § 320.5(3)(b) advance no state interest; only rarely does the statute operate to prevent crime. See supra, at 297-298. This high incidence of demonstrated error should induce a reviewing court to exercise utmost care in ensuring that no procedures could be devised that would improve the accuracy of the decisionmaking process. Opportunities for improvement in the extant regime are apparent
The majority purports to see no value in such additional safeguards, contending that activity of estimating the likelihood that a given juvenile will commit a crime in the near future involves subtle assessment of a host of variables, the precise weight of which cannot be determined in advance. Ante, at 279. A review of the hearings that resulted in the detention of the juveniles included in the sample of 34 cases reveals the majority's depiction of the decisionmaking process to be hopelessly idealized. For example, the operative portion of the initial appearance of Tyrone Parson, the three-card monte player,
This kind of parody of reasoned decisionmaking would be less likely to occur if judges were given more specific and mandatory instructions regarding the information they should consider and the manner in which they should assess it.
Third and finally, the imposition of such constraints on the deliberations of the Family Court judges would have no adverse effect on the State's interest in detaining dangerous juveniles and would give rise to insubstantial administrative burdens. For example, a simple directive to Family Court judges to state on the record the significance they give to the seriousness of the offense of which a juvenile is accused and to the nature of the juvenile's background would contribute materially to the quality of the decisionmaking process without significantly increasing the duration of initial appearances.
In summary, the three factors enumerated in Mathews in combination incline overwhelmingly in favor of imposition of more stringent constraints on detention determinations under § 320.5(3)(b). Especially in view of the impracticability of correcting erroneous decisions through judicial review, see supra, at 298-300, the absence of meaningful procedural safeguards in the provision renders it invalid. See Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 757, and n. 9 (1982).
A principle underlying many of our prior decisions in various doctrinal settings is that government officials may not be accorded unfettered discretion in making decisions that
So, in striking down on vagueness grounds a vagrancy ordinance, we emphasized the "unfettered discretion it places in the hands of the . . . police." Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 U.S. 156, 168 (1972). Such flexibility was deemed constitutionally offensive because it "permits and encourages an arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of the law." Id., at 170. Partly for similar reasons, we have consistently held violative of the First Amendment ordinances which make the ability to engage in constitutionally protected speech "contingent upon the uncontrolled will of an official — as by requiring a permit or license which may be granted or withheld in the discretion of such official." Staub v. City of Baxley, 355 U.S. 313, 322 (1958); accord, Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, 394 U.S. 147, 151, 153 (1969). Analogous considerations inform our understanding of the dictates of the Due Process Clause. Concurring in the judgment in Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374 (1978), striking down a statute that conditioned the right to marry upon the satisfaction of child-support obligations, JUSTICE POWELL aptly observed:
The majority acknowledges — indeed, founds much of its argument upon — the principle that a State has both the power and the responsibility to protect the interests of the children within its jurisdiction. See Santosky v. Kramer, supra, at 766. Yet the majority today upholds a statute whose net impact on the juveniles who come within its purview is overwhelmingly detrimental. Most persons detained under the provision reap no benefit and suffer serious injuries thereby. The welfare of only a minority of the detainees is even arguably enhanced. The inequity of this regime, combined with
I respectfully dissent.
"1. At the initial appearance, the court in its discretion may release the respondent or direct his detention.
"3. The court shall not direct detention unless it finds and states the facts and reasons for so finding that unless the respondent is detained;
"(a) there is a substantial probability that he will not appear in court on the return date; or "(b) there is a serious risk that he may before the return date commit an act which if committed by an adult would constitute a crime."
Appellees have only challenged pretrial detention under § 320.5(3)(b). Thus, the propriety of detention to ensure that a juvenile appears in court on the return date, pursuant to § 320.5(3)(a), is not before the Court.
Obviously, this Court must "review the judgment below in light of the. . . statute as it now stands, not as it once did." Hall v. Beals, 396 U.S. 45, 48 (1969). But since new Article 3 contains a preventive detention section identical to former § 739(a)(ii), see FCA § 320.5(3), the appeal is not moot. Brockington v. Rhodes, 396 U.S. 41, 43 (1969).
"Pretrial detention is by nature temporary, and it is most unlikely that any given individual could have his constitutional claim decided on appeal before he is either released or convicted. The individual could nonetheless suffer repeated deprivations, and it is certain that other persons similarly situated will be detained under the allegedly unconstitutional procedures. The claim, in short, is one that is distinctly `capable of repetition, yet evading review.' "
See also People ex rel. Wayburn v. Schupf, 39 N.Y.2d 682, 686-687, 350 N.E.2d 906, 907-908 (1976).
Only if, as in Martin's case, the Family Court is not in session and special circumstances exist, such as an inability to notify the parents, will the child be taken directly by the arresting officer to a juvenile detention facility. § 305.2(4)(c). If the juvenile is so detained, he must be brought before the Family Court within 72 hours or the next day the court is in session, whichever is sooner. § 307.3(4). The propriety of such detention, prior to a juvenile's initial appearance in Family Court, is not at issue in this case. Appellees challenged only judicially ordered detention pursuant to § 320.5(3)(b).
The dispositional hearing is the final and most important proceeding in the Family Court. If the juvenile has committed a designated felony, the court must order a probation investigation and a diagnostic assessment. § 351.1. Any other material and relevant evidence may be offered by the probation agency or the juvenile. Both sides may call and cross-examine witnesses and recommend specific dispositional alternatives. § 350.4. The court must find, based on a preponderance of the evidence, § 350.3(2), that the juvenile is delinquent and requires supervision, treatment, or confinement. § 352.1. Otherwise, the petition is dismissed. Ibid.
If the juvenile is found to be delinquent, then the court enters an order of disposition. Possible alternatives include a conditional discharge; probation for up to two years; nonsecure placement with, perhaps, a relative or the Division for Youth; transfer to the Commissioner of Mental Health; or secure placement. §§ 353.1-353.5. Unless the juvenile committed one of the designated felonies, the court must order the least restrictive available alternative consistent with the needs and best interests of the juvenile and the need for protection of the community. § 352.2(2).
Second, after a review of the pertinent scholarly literature, the court noted that "no diagnostic tools have as yet been devised which enable even the most highly trained criminologists to predict reliably which juveniles will engage in violent crime." Id., at 708. A fortiori, the court concluded, a Family Court judge cannot make a reliable prediction based on the limited information available to him at the initial appearance. Id., at 712. Moreover, the court felt that the trial record was "replete" with examples of arbitrary and capricious detentions. Id., at 713.
Finally, the court concluded that preventive detention is merely a euphemism for punishment imposed without an adjudication of guilt. The alleged purpose of the detention — to protect society from the juvenile's criminal conduct — is indistinguishable from the purpose of post-trial detention. And given "the inability of trial judges to predict which juveniles will commit crimes," there is no rational connection between the decision to detain and the alleged purpose, even if that purpose were legitimate. Id., at 716.
"For the same reasons that our society does not hold juveniles to an adult standard of responsibility for their conduct, our society may also conclude that there is a greater likelihood that a juvenile charged with delinquency, if released, will commit another criminal act than that an adult charged with crime will do so. To the extent that self-restraint may be expected to constrain adults, it may not be expected to operate with equal force as to juveniles. Because of the possibility of juvenile delinquency treatment and the absence of second-offender sentencing, there will not be the deterrent for the juvenile which confronts the adult. Perhaps more significant is the fact that in consequence of lack of experience and comprehension the juvenile does not view the commission of what are criminal acts in the same perspective as an adult. . . . There is the element of games-manship and the excitement of `getting away' with something and the powerful inducement of peer pressures. All of these commonly acknowledged factors make the commission of criminal conduct on the part of juveniles in general more likely than in the case of adults." People ex rel. Wayburn v. Schupf, 39 N. Y. 2d, at 687-688, 350 N. E. 2d, at 908-909.
More fundamentally, this sort of attack on a criminal statute must be made on a case-by-case basis. United States v. Raines, 362 U.S. 17, 21 (1960). The Court will not sift through the entire class to determine whether the statute was constitutionally applied in each case. And, outside the limited First Amendment context, a criminal statute may not be attacked as overbroad. See New York v. Ferber, 458 U.S. 747 (1982).
With the consent of the victim or complainant and the juvenile, the court may also refer a case to the probation service for adjustment. If the case is subsequently adjusted, the petition is then dismissed. § 320.6.
A prediction of future criminal conduct may also form the basis for an increased sentence under the "dangerous special offender" statute, 18 U. S. C. § 3575. Under § 3575(f), a "dangerous" offender is defined as an individual for whom "a period of confinement longer than that provided for such [underlying] felony is required for the protection of the public from further criminal conduct by the defendant." The statute has been challenged numerous times on the grounds that the standards is unconstitutionally vague. Every Court of Appeals considering the question has rejected that claim. United States v. Davis, 710 F.2d 104, 108-109 (CA3), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1001 (1983); United States v. Schell, 692 F.2d 672, 675-676 (CA10 1982); United States v. Williamson, 567 F.2d 610, 613 (CA4 1977); United States v. Bowdach, 561 F.2d 1160, 1175 (CA5 1977); United States v. Neary, 552 F.2d 1184, 1194 (CA7), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 864 (1977); United States v. Stewart, 531 F.2d 326, 336-337 (CA6), cert. denied, 426 U.S. 922 (1976).
In contrast to the breadth of the coverage of the Family Court Act, the District of Columbia adult preventive-detention statute that was upheld in United States v. Edwards, 430 A.2d 1321 (D. C. 1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 1022 (1982), authorizes detention only of persons charged with one of a prescribed set of "dangerous crime[s]" or "crime[s] of violence." D. C. Code §§ 23-1322(a)(1), (2) (1981).
Prediction whether a given person will commit a crime in the future is especially difficult when he has committed only minor crimes in the past. Cf. Baldasar v. Illinois, 446 U.S. 222, 231 (1980) (POWELL, J., dissenting) ("No court can predict with confidence whether a misdemeanor defendant is likely to become a recidivist").
Release (before or after trial) of some of the juveniles detained under § 320.5(3)(b) may well be due to a different factor: the evidence against them may be insufficient to support a finding of guilt. It is conceivable that some of those persons are so crime-prone that they would have committed an offense if not detained. But even the majority does not suggest that persons who could not be convicted of any crimes may nevertheless be imprisoned for the protection of themselves and the public.
"This business now of being able to get guns, is now completely out of proportion. We are living in a jungle. We are living in a jungle, and it is time that these youths that are brought before the Court, know that they are in a Court, and that if these allegations are true, that they are going to pay the penalty.
"As for the reasons I just state[d] on the record, . . . I am remand[ing] the respondent to the Commissioner of Juvenile Justice, secure detention."
"Whether the juvenile was a first offender with no prior conduct, whether the court was advised that the juvenile was an obedient son or was needed at home, whether probation intake recommended parole, the case histories in this record disclose that it was not unusual for the court to discount these considerations and order remand based on a 5 to 15 minute evaluation."
"It is clear that the judge decides on pretrial detention for a variety of reasons — as a means of protecting the community, as the policy of the judge to remand, as an express punitive device, or because of the serious nature of the charge[,] among others" (citations omitted).